I got an interesting e-mail this morning. I left the person's name out in the interest of privacy. Notice my response. What do you think?
I came across your blog after watching the movie Jesus Camp and reading your interview with Pastor Tim O'brien. I was born Jewish, after my parents divorced, my mother remarried and my step-father, who basically introduced my to Christianity. After being in a Protestant Church for some time, my step-father felt the need to return to his Catholic roots, and we convert to Roman Catholic Church when I was in middle school. In high school i began to doubt my faith, and now that I'm in college I would consider myself an atheist. The arguments that led me to my current convictions could not be answered by my father or our local priest, and so I would like to see if you can take a stab at them...
1. The idea that the human race began from two individuals?
Answer from father and Church: The story is symbolic, the importance being that God created the first humans, and that we are separated from animals through the soul.
Further Questions arisen: How do we tell which stories are symbolic from the bible and which are not? Can we take any words from the bible literally? Other than obvious reasons of why this is scientifically false such as problems with cross breeding, ask the European royalty, I found this idea to be very troublesome as evolution and the progression of man from our monkey brothers becomes more and more viable with more and more evidence.
2. The idea that the bible is infallible, written through humans by God?
The earliest version of the bible that we have found was written around 350AD. Which means that the words that people take as the true words of Jesus Christ were passed down orally for over three hundred years. I know a belief of Christians is that humans are morally bad or corrupt, so I ask has it ever crossed your mind or any Churches minds that the words that are seen in todays bibles may be different from what Jesus said. But the bible is still quoted and accepted as the absolute truth and the words of God. From written evidence we found today, there is no way to know that some human along the way did not change any of the stories or words. If you have ever taken a history class, you would come to a conclusion that the new testament is a weak secondary document at most.
3. That god is outside of time...
One idea that frustrates me to the core is the idea that god has everything planned ahead of time. That he has a plan for everyone and that God planned the coming of christ since the beginning of time. Time, defined by the constant expansion of the universe is a nifty little thing that makes sure that not everything happens at the same time. For God to know what will happen in the future, he would then have to be outside of time, therefore knowing how every position and action would happen before it happens. To disprove this I will not turn to science, but to Christianities own infallible source: the bible. Anything that could disprove this theory would be any passage that says God changed his mind, for instance after flooding the world, won't even go into that one, God realized that killing every human other than Noah was a bad thing and promised to never do that again, oh wait did he change his mind?
Well I won't take up any more of your time, but I found your blog interesting and wanted to know if you could offer any answers to the questions I have.
Thank you for writing. You bring up a lot of issues. I appreciate your honesty. So let me be honest back. I'm a follower of Jesus not because I have everything figured out. Not because I can explain how time works and how God fits into that equation (though if you're interested in the subject, I'd check out Greg Boyd's website He's a Jesus follower with some unorthodox views on this matter) . I follow Jesus not because I have it figured out which passages in the Bible are more literal than others. Frankly, that's not so important to me anymore. I don't even follow Jesus because I can substantiate everything written in the New Testament, though there's a guy named Josh McDowell that's an expert on that sort of thing, perhaps you should look him up, but again, not the point. Point being, I follow Jesus for none of these reasons. Even if there was no heaven above or hell beneath, I'd still follow Jesus.
Because His life and teachings are so stinking compelling! Jesus was a man of the people, a champion for the oppressed, a critic of the establishment, a thorn in the side to the rich and the powerful, and above all, a friend of sinners. His kindness and compassion knew no limits. I love how He went out of His way to upset the religious establishment of His day by befriending harlots, Roman soldiers, tax collectors, and Samaritans. I don't know any teaching more compelling than "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who persecute you." I'm sickened that most of my Christian friends don't take His teachings more seriously in their attitudes towards war-- but don't get me started. Because just when I feel myself getting self-righteous, I'm reminded that Jesus said, "Judge not lest you be judged" and "Remove the plank in your own eye before considering the speck in your brothers eye." When Jesus was on the cross, He prayed for His torturers "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." If God is like Jesus, then that's good news for everybody.
This is why I follow Jesus.
Everything else is icing on the cake.